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NETL Director Delivers Keynote on Transition to a Decarbonized Future
Brian Anderson

NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., discussed “Paving the Way to a Decarbonized Energy Future” during his keynote address at the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR) Spring 2021 Meeting: Energy and Resources Needs for a Nation in Transition, which was held Monday, May 10.

The focus of the BESR meeting, held by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, was framed around current energy and Earth resources research priorities, with an emphasis on how addressing those priorities could mitigate climate change while simultaneously decreasing adverse social and environmental impacts.

In his address, Anderson highlighted NETL’s highly successful record of technological achievements to transition the U.S. to an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. He also outlined the critical role NETL scientists and engineers will play to address the Biden Administration’s ambitious climate goals of a carbon emissions-free power sector by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

Anderson shared that NETL manages a broad portfolio of carbon capture projects, including post-combustion and pre-combustion capture to reduce carbon emissions in a wide spectrum of industries, from fossil-fueled power generation to manufacturing and heavy industry, as well as negative emissions technologies, such as direct capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Developing technologies in carbon capture, power plants efficiencies, advanced materials, hydrogen production and use, and energy storage have been long-standing priorities at NETL. Those projects and others, Anderson noted, will take on heightened significance as the Lab’s dedicated researchers work to meet the goals of the administration.

Anderson also discussed his recent appointment by President Biden to serve in a leadership role as the U.S. prepares to undergo an energy evolution, which will synergistically incorporate diverse energy sources, including renewable, nuclear and fossil with carbon capture, to more effectively provide environmental sustainability.

As Executive Director of the Biden Administration’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, Anderson will lead efforts to ensure the shift to a clean energy economy creates good-paying union jobs, spurs economic revitalization, remediates environmental degradation and supports energy workers in coal, oil and gas and power plant communities across the country.

Anderson also explained that NETL-supported technologies for using coal wastes to produce rare earth elements or to manufacture valuable products such as graphene have the potential to remediate legacy environmental impacts while also creating new jobs in the affected coal and power plant communities. 

BESR was established in 1988 to provide a focal point for activities related to Earth sciences and resources and their application to policy and decision making. Through its committees, panels, and roundtables, it oversees and facilitates activities on a range of Earth science and resource issues including those related to the natural environment; the built environment; natural hazards; energy, mineral and land resources; geographic and geospatial information; and research, data science, education and workforce.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory develops advanced technologies that provide clean energy while safeguarding the environment. NETL’s work supports DOE’s mission to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy and environmental challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.